Ys - Joanna Newsom
Metascore
85

Universal acclaim - based on 35 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 30 out of 35
  2. Negative: 1 out of 35
  1. Yes, Ys is a demanding listen, but it's also a rewarding and inspiring one.
  2. For my money, Newsom has demonstrated more nuance, depth of feeling, and originality than a hundred bedazzling pop divas.
  3. The people who hear this record will split into two crowds: The ones who think it's silly and precious, and the ones who, once they hear it, won't be able to live without it.
  4. 100
    For the 56 minutes that "Ys" lasts, all the doubts evaporate. Every elaboration has a purpose, every labyrinthine melodic detour feels necessary rather than contrived. Tempting as it is to fixate on the gilded reputations of her associates, this is unequivocally Newsom’s album.
  5. Utterly entrancing. [Dec 2006, p.141]
  6. 90
    It is Newsom's voice that provides the stunning balm to bind this strange beauty together. [Dec 2006, p.118]
  7. Hard to stomach. [19 Oct 2006, p.134]
  8. For those willing to let go a little and drift, Ys can be an amazing journey, especially when Parks' strings and Newsom's harp lock into a seductive dance, or when her voice catches one of the fleeting snatches of melody and rides it until it escapes.
  9. Newsom has managed to lessen the twee factor of her last record... in the process crafting an album as bewitching as it is odd.
  10. The full orchestra doesn’t smack of overproduced grandiosity, which is a nice surprise. Less surprising, of course, is the album's incredible lyrical density. [#15]
  11. 90
    Throughout the album, Newsom's language is more colorful than on Mender; at its best, it works as music even on the page. [Dec 2006, p.95]
  12. It’s a vivid and beautiful painting that you can walk into; a magic window into another world that I'd be happy to get lost in, and never come back.
  13. There is still something unsettlingly Renaissance fair-meets-Wind in the Willows about her music, yet something lovely lives there as well. [24 Nov 2006, p.109]
  14. It may well be the most off-putting album released this year. After playing it, there seems every chance it is the also the most astonishing.
  15. The beating heart of Newsom's tales, at turns whimsical and melancholic, enchant with a simple calculus: A woman, a harp and a story to tell. [Dec 2006, p.190]
  16. No album will ever move you quite like it, and if it weren't for a slight misstep, it would be perfect in almost every way.
  17. From the lavish orchestration courtesy of Van Dyke Parks to the richness and sheer abundance of language at Newsom's disposal, Ys is a supreme achievement.
  18. The album is a precious--in every sense of the word--masterpiece.
  19. Unfortunately, the grand concept appears to have been a bit too ambitious for the 24-year-old Newsom and her associates to pull off, since what she plucks and sings in her little-girl-lost warble never seems entirely integrated with the hovering orchestral parts that sound like bleed-over from a symphony rehearsal in the room next door.
  20. Ys is one of those rare sophomore albums that shatters exceedingly high expectations.
  21. 80
    The emotional peaks are so sharp, the wordplay so juicy, that all excesses are redeemed.
  22. If you give it a chance (or maybe even a dozen chances, if you can stand it), and don't immediately dismiss it because it's by Joanna, I’m sure you’ll find something to love.
  23. In a bid to make a startling epic work, she's concentrated on the form and neglected the content.
  24. While Ys is ridiculously overwritten, over-performed and self-contained, her fables always sublimate into the hot fog of real emotions just before they calcify.
  25. 60
    While it is technically flawless and masterfully executed, it makes for awkward listening. [#74, p.102]
  26. 90
    She surpasses the level of comparatively hook-heavy songwriting set with The Milk-Eyed Mender by evoking a dramatic weight people will still be talking about years down the line. [Nov 2006, p.137]
  27. She has issued a treasure. She has floored us again.
  28. Listening to Ys is like dreaming with eyes open, a detached lucidity in which clarity inevitably follows.
  29. Ys is an exceptional piece of art in the broadest sense - give it the chance to grow on you.
  30. The narrative plot of each song retains the best features of Newsom's previous work, and is gloriously wordy. Here might be the album's one weakness, since it's simply hard to understand a line like "Scrap of sassafras, eh Sisyphus?" when it's set to rhythm, to say nothing of back-and-forth dialogue.
  31. An album that sounds unlike anything else.
  32. So much that is sprightly about the debut is subsumed here by ambition, to be kind, and privilege, to be brutally accurate. [Feb/Mar 2007]
  33. It's like being stuck in the seat next to a chatty, batshit backwoods pixie for an 18-hour plane ride.
  34. It’s to her great credit that Newsom (literally) plucks artistic triumph from the jaws of cloying whimsy.
User Score
8.2

Universal acclaim- based on 321 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 38 out of 196
  1. Dec 11, 2010
    10
    Magical. Flawless. One of the best albums I've ever heard, it's like a very well told tale, and Joanna is very creative, and not boring at all. Even though no one mentions it, "Cosmia" is beautiful, and, for me, the best track. "Sawdust & Diamonds" is also just as pretty. No single back track in this album. Full Review »
  2. Jan 18, 2012
    10
    Newsom screeching voice, her masterful harp playing and the graceful orchestration all come together in a whirlwind of beauty that at the end of the album you are completely overwhelmed. It is very unlikely that youâ Full Review »
  3. Nov 27, 2011
    9
    Showing her power as an singer and harpist, Joanna Newsom deliver us the best folk album ever. With strange lyrics, that sounds like talks, we catch ourselves flying around listening to beatiful songs like 'Emily' and 'Sawdust & Diamonds' - the best of this album. Super! Full Review »